Fibre is a key ingredient to a healthy, varied and balanced diet.
According to NHS Choices, “government guidelines published in July 2015 say that our dietary fibre intake should increase to 30g a day, as part of a healthy balanced diet. As most adults are only eating an average of about 18g day, we need to find ways of increasing our intake”.
The quality of your fibre is important
Although many food manufacturers (particularly producers of breakfast cereal) promote their products as containing “added fibre”, this is usually in the form of bran.
Bran is the outer coating of the wheat grain, removed to make white flour. In other words, it is a waste product.
Taken in its original form, as part of the whole grain, bran is nutritious. However, extracted bran is highly irritant and can actually damage the delicate membranes of the gut. What’s more, Professor of Nutrition, John Dickerson (University of Surrey), has stressed the danger of adding wheat-bran to a nutrient-poor diet. The reason is that wheat bran contains high levels of phytate, an anti-nutrient that reduces the absorption of essential minerals (including zinc).
The bottom line – the quality of the fibre you are including in your daily diet is just as important as the quantity.
Did you know that not all types of carbohydrate can be digested? Indigestible carbohydrate is actually what we refer to as “fibre”.
Fibre is found in all plants that are eaten for food, and there are two types: insoluble fibre and soluble fibre. As the name suggests, soluble fibre is “soluble” in water. When mixed with water it dissolves to form a gel-like substance and swells. Insoluble fibre does not absorb, or dissolve in, water. It passes through the digestive system in close to its original form.
There are also other types of fibre that are proteins, rather than carbohydrates.